I am my own worst enemy. I am my harshest critic. I know this. I try to change this and yet, time after time after time, I have failed to morph this ugly character trait for myself. I simply cannot!
Recently, I opened a fortune cookie that read, "Demand nothing but the best for yourself, or no one will." Halleluiah. This was music to my ears (eyes?). If I do not have anything but the highest expectations for myself, who will?
I had a really tough year last year - emotionally. No, I did not let on to anyone just how bad it was. Massive changes were in store for me after downsizing my home and adjusting to new financial rules (namely learning how to live on a strictly cash basis budget while paying down prior years' debt). Breast cancer just does not go away after the treatments and the surgeries stop. The lingering effects still loom large, and the realities force us survivors to figure out our "new normals" on so many levels.
My docs want me to keep my stress levels to an absolute minimum. Ha ha. Yes, I hear you laughing because you know I am like you - a mother of multiple children, I have a husband and a job, and so on. I have been cleared to work on a part time basis. I cannot help but blame myself for our financial situation when I could easily solve it by returning to my full time corporate career. However, I cannot defy my medical orders and risk my health.
Where am I going with this you ask? Well, when I cannot control my situation (yes, I have a tad touch of control freak in me) I cannot cope. Because I was still coming off of an injury last year, my exercise has waned dramatically. Exercise had been my coping mechanism and most of you know I was a gym rat; an insane exerciser who never missed a day. This past year, instead of a thousand burpees, I turned to emotional eating. Yes, me. I love kale more than most people you will ever meet. However, kale does not give you that big ol' comfort hug like a dose of carbs.
In any event, I put on some weight again and I have been beating myself up about it. I have disliked myself very, very, very much. I have hiked, I have walked, I have run when I could, but with the chaos of my kids' fall schedules, I found very little time for me to add exercise let alone be a gym rat.
Did I mention I dislike my current self very, very, very, very much?
In any event, a friend of mine asked me in early October to do a triathlon training class with her. Sure I replied, while having a small dose of diarrhea in my skivvies. One hour of spin class followed by one hour of swim class. Sure. I can do that. *Insert panic attack and more intestional distress.*
Now, the reality is I walk out of spin class looking like a beaten fifty shades of red tomato that has melted in the summer sun. Somehow, I peel myself out of these soaked diaper bottomed cycling shorts and get my sweaty, lardy self into a bathing suit (in the DEAD of winter, mind you) and jump into a pool to swim. One problem: I do not swim.
I do not swim.
Yes, I did a sprint triathlon two years ago. However, I did the breast stroke nearly the entire way. I sputtered. I swallowed water. I stopped dead in the lake when people tried to overswim me.
I have been getting ridiculous anxiety every Thursday as I gear up to know what lies ahead in the evening hours. I have forgotten how much I love spin class. It is hard. However, it is the kick ass kind of workout that I crave. I do enjoy a fair amount of pain and torture.
Let me remind you, however, I do not swim.
Well, I had a revelation this week. I am getting better at swimming. My strokes have improved a hundred fold from a few short weeks ago. My breathing, well, it's still a work in progress but I made progress tonight. I felt so much frustration at NOT being able to keep up with the "OTHERS" in class - you know, the REAL triathletes. I started on the harsh criticism to myself - yelling at myself for not swimming fast enough, for not being able to keep up with some of the others, for not being able to glide through the water like a dolphin. I further chastised myself for swallowing water. Again.
Once the endorphins kicked in, I realized that I accomplished quite the feat tonight and I had NO business yelling at myself. If I had not been in the classes tonight, where would I have been? Yup. You guessed it. On my couch. Snuggling with my favorite four year old. Suddenly, it dawned on me - I need to be nicer to myself. I need to compliment myself and say thank you - thank you for taking that time for me; thank you for pushing myself to the limits both on the bike and in the pool.
My body is a machine and I will use it as it is intended. I will offer myself some grace. I will know that next week I will be better and I will be stronger than I was last week. I will be kind.